See-through: Using communication in the promotion of transparency and accountability in Iganga District.
This research was undertaken to assess how Iganga district, one of the local governments in Uganda, used communication to promote transparency and accountability. The research was premised on the fact that the district leadership was under obligations to account to the people, its actions, decisions and plans through deliberate established communication channels. The study was based on two media theories; the Democratic Participant Theory and Public Sphere theory to put into perspective the literature that was reviewed. The study used both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies with their accompanying tools for data collection and analysis. These were face-to-face interviews, questionnaires, focus group discussions and observation. The study used a sample size of 122 respondents selected from the sub counties of Makuutu, Nambale, Ikumbya and Iganga Municipal council. The research established that respondents valued the use of communication to promote transparency and accountability in the district. They also felt that their leaders ought to be open when handling the tendering process in the district. That timely release of information about government programs by leaders was crucial to democracy and good governance. On the other hand, it was discovered that the communication process in Iganga was poor. It emerged that there were cases of delayed dissemination of valuable information to the people. The tendering process in the district is not handled transparently. Respondents agreed that a well formulated communication process empowers them to supervise their leaders, promotes transparency and accountability by the leaders, checks corrupt tendencies and allows them to participate in decision making. Radio was ranked the most common channel of communication used by district leaders to reach audiences. This was followed by notice boards. However, the frequency of radio messages was erratic. For example only two radio talk shows were conducted during the 2009/10 financial year. It was discovered that there was lack of participatory planning and feedback especially where people at village level are never involved in decision making in relation to government programs like NAADS, construction of classrooms under SFG, and roads. Females were found to be the most disadvantaged than men in accessing information related to government programs in the district.